Friday, August 25, 2017

Roland SVC-350 "Have a say in your sound" ad, International Musician and Recording World, 1980

Roland SVC-350 vocoder "Have a say in your sound" full colour advertisement from page 91 in the July 1980 issue of International Musician and Recording World.

No offense to my first love - Keyboard Magazine - but lately I've been spending a bit of free time flipping through some of my other magazine archives. That's how I came across that CR-68/78 ad I posted earlier in August.  And now I've got this lovely vocoder ad.

This ad doesn't have the same sense of humour as the previous one I posted, but I gotta say I find it just as interesting. Full disclosure - I own an SVC-350 and *love it*. So, you may wanna take my interest with a grain of salt.

So, one of the most interesting things about this ad is summed up in that ol' saying: "You can tell a lot about a person by the company they keep". In this ad, Roland has chosen a photo of the SVC-350 pulled out of a rack that includes some of their other rack gear - a guitar pre-amplifier, stereo flanger, pitch-to-voltage synthesizer, digital delay and Dimension D. Together, Roland has named these and a number of their other effects, the "Roland Rack" system. I hadn't heard this term used to officially describe their rack gear before.

The word "system" was a buzz word that appeared in many gear-related ads during the 70's and 80's. For example, Korg used it in their 1984 "The Korg MIDI System" ad that included their Poly 800 and EX800 synthesizers, RK 100 remote keyboard, KMS-30 synchronizer (a personal favourite) and computer software.

Oberheim used the term "The System" in a 1982 ad to describe the proprietary multi-pin technology used to get their OB-Xa/OB-SX/DMX/DSX gear to work together. They continued using it in 1983 when they swapped out the synths for their OB-8.

Even earlier sightings can be seen in a 1978 ad where the Oberheim SEM teamed up with 360 Systems' Slavedriver to create their own "The System". And it wasn't just in ads - just look at the name of some of Roland's early synthesizers like the System 100, 100m and 700. Or Moog's System I, II and III modulars.

One more thing I noticed. After reading the ad-copy over a few times, something was nagging at me and I couldn't figure it out for the longest time. Then it hit me. At no point does Roland mention the model number of their vocoder in the ad-copy. Its always just referred to as the Roland Vocoder.  It would be like calling your synthesizer "Roland Synthesizer" in the ad-copy of a JX-8p ad.

I checked the ad for the pre-amplifier that is part of the rack system which ran prior to this one, and its model name - SIP-300 -  is referred to multiple times. Maybe because there are other Roland preamps but only one vocoder?

Curious. Probably just to me. :)

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Roland CR-68/CR-78 "No more waiting for Louie" ad, International Musician and Recording World, 1979

Roland CR-68/CR-78 drum machine "No more waiting for Louie" full page colour advertisement from page 115 in the November 1979 issue of International Musician and Recording World magazine.

How time flies! Happy 8/08 day!

And what has now become kind of a tradition, I've uploaded this lovely 808... er.... wait a tick!   Actually, I've uploaded a scan of an advertisement for the predecessors of the TR-808 - the CR-68 and CR-78 drum machines. I haven't seen this ad online, so if it hasn't been available there, I'm happy to get it onto the record (pun intended).

Where to start? Well, for one, the ad-copy is very well done.

Read it... I'll wait...

I say its well done because Roland strays a little bit away from their usual no-nonsense "We design the future" text to poke a little fun at those drummers reading International Musician. A perhaps risky move since at the time synthesizers and drum machines were viewed by more than a few "real musicians' as just boxes of job-stealing tubes and wires.

But Roland handles this topic well by not suggesting that the rest of the band kick Louie the drummer to the curb for being late all the time, but instead to use this waiting time wisely by plugging in one of their drum machines so they can keep on practicing. To make sure they stay firmly on the fence, they conclude the ad copy with:
"The Compu-Rhythms may not replace the drummers of the world, but they're going to make it a lot easier to live with their little inconsistencies". 
Well played, Roland... well played. Especially since these drum machines ended up on many hit records anyway including ‘Heart of Glass’ by Blondie and ‘In the Air Tonight’ by Phil Collins.

As mentioned above, the CR-series directly preceded the TR-808 drum machine, coming out in 1978 according to Roland's own "Roland Drum Machine History 1964-2016". A great treat for anyone who hasn't scrolled through it yet.

And, also according to the Web site, The CR-78 in particular is a unique milestone for Roland in that it "was the first of its kind to use integrated circuits - an important development in the history of drum machines." In other words, it included memory so that users could program their own patterns and store them for later use. Which you already knew because you made me wait while you read the ad-copy. Right? :)

I'm a little sad that the photo of the drum machines are so small in the ad. I love the look of these machines. The wood-grain sides. The dials. The buttons. And also the colours - some of which went on to appear within the TR-808 colour scheme.

One thing suspiciously missing from the ad is the CR-800 - a third CR- drum machine that also came out in 1978. This was kind of a mash-up between the CR-68 and 78, built within a large floor speaker. Jon Dent's blog goes into some great detail (with large photos!) on the similarities and differences between all three of these drum machines in a Feb 2015. Definitely check it out.

Time to go enjoy the rest of my 8/08 day!